Heaven…

23 Oct

Wow, it’s been a while.  Well let me give a quick recap of what I have been up to for the last year that I haven’t written on my blog!  I finished my master’s degree and it was a whirlwind of a year.  I must say that it was a lot of work, but I learned so much and now God has blessed me with a new job since I graduated.  I am so happy and grateful with where I am at now.  I have been enjoying being able to spend more time with my husband now that I don’t have homework to do 😉

I started going to a bible study again and we have been learning about heaven.  I must say that it has really blown me away and given me a fresh excitement and awe for the creative and abundant works of God.  I never really understood before how incredibly amazing and beautiful and perfect it will be in heaven.  The beauty and the love that we experience here on earth gives us just a glimpse into the perfect eternity that God wants us to spend with Him.  Can you imagine a city that is so beautiful that is glistens with the colors of gemstones, is paved with gold, and where there is no strife, no pain, no sickness, and no need for the sun because the presence of God will shine on everything?  It’s breathtaking and hard to even imagine for me.  It makes me thank God at the end of each day that I am one day closer to getting to meet Jesus face to face.

Revelations 21:1-6 says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.”

When I close my eyes and think about these promises, I am overcome with awe!

In Revelations 22:1-5, John describes heaven even further, “Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.
No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.”

I find this all so fascinating! I will share more as I continue learning.

What do you look forward to or know about or want to know about heaven?  I would love to hear from you.

I wanted to share a song about heaven and found this great video of Wynonna Judd singing “I Can Only Imagine” by MercyMe.  She opens the song by sharing her testimony and it is so touching to hear her story.

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Possibilities

20 Jul

“What do you  mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” Mark 9:23

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.  Mark 11:22-25

“If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.”

The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it would obey you! Luke 17:3-6

“What is impossible for people is possible with God.”  Luke 19:27

This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”  John 6:29

The possibilities are endless if you are willing to believe that God sent his only son to earth to die on a cross in order to purchase all of our salvation with his own blood.  This one man was sent to offer himself up as a sacrifice so holy that all who believed in Him could be forgiven of their sins and could also be seen as holy before God.  He had to die for us to live.  If you believe that Jesus was sent to earth from God and died to save you and I from our sins, then you can receive the gift of eternal life that God so dearly wants his children to accept.  God is a gentleman, he won’t force himself upon you.  You have to ask for his presence and his gifts, then he will bestow them upon you.  And with the faith that comes from believing in him and his son, then you can ask for anything in Jesus’ name and as Mark 11 says, “If you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.”

Be Unshakable

17 Jun

Sometimes it feels like everything is so fragile. Like one little move could make the world come tumbling down. But, God’s word tells us that as his followers and through his grace we are part of something unshakable.  The Kingdom of God is unshakable… his Kingdom will never  crumble and never be defeated. The end has already been written and victory has already been proclaimed. It is just a matter of time until it all unfolds in God’s perfect order.

God calls us to listen to him:

…you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.

Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.”  This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.

Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire. Hebrews 12:22-29

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

Death is swallowed up in victory.
  O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Corinthians 15:51-57

So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. Hebrews 12:12-13

Lord pour out your spirit on us, give us your strength, make us unshakable.

Amen.

 

Fire Reignited

11 May

I was moved last night. I walked into a room and the presence of God was so strong that tears started streaming from my eyes.  Fifteen people were inside that room singing worship songs and praying.  I felt a mixture of things as I sat down to join them.  I felt the remnants of anxiety that I had brought with me there and which has been my companion for a while.  The kind of nagging anxiety that keeps you from feeling at peace because you have things to do and it slowly eats away at you.  I closed my eyes and started to pray. I felt peace trickling into me along with love, comfort, forgiveness, and the presence of holiness.  With tears silently running down my face, I prayed and I listened.  The presence of the Holy Spirit felt even stronger, I could literally feel someone touching my arm in an embrace.  I needed this. I was thanking God for putting it in my heart to come to that house and worship Him.

Over the course of the hour that I prayed and worshiped, I was moved by the prayers that others boldly spoke out for all of us to hear. I was moved by their passion and the fire in their hearts for the Lord.  I was moved by the music and the comfort that it brought me.  I was moved by God’s word when I opened my bible and read Acts 17:27-28, “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him – though he is not far from any one of us.  For in him we live and move and exist.”

I felt renewed, refreshed, restored, purified, and rekindled.  I had been missing that passion for him.  The passion that comes from keeping in the forefront of your mind and overflowing from your heart that in him you live, in him you move, and in him you exist.  God is not distant; once you give your heart to Him, he resides there. When you talk to Him, he is listening and he is carrying out your requests.

He is always waiting with open arms and unfailing love for us to give our hearts to Him. Whether for the first time or after a time that we have turned away from Him.  He is there. He is waiting. With arms open and compassion in his heart.

“But then I will win her back once again.
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her there.
  I will return her vineyards to her
and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.”   Hosea 2:14-15

Thank you Lord for reigniting the fire in my heart for you.  For healing me last night. Thank you for being my constant rock and salvation. Thank you for showing me your love and letting me feel your presence.  Thank you for speaking to me. Thank you for being my hope, my love, and my everything.

Amen

United

12 Apr

 

This morning after praying for guidance about our church and the changes that are taking place, I opened the bible to Jesus’ prayer in John 17.  This prayer was said by Jesus right before his betrayal by Judas and crucifixion took place.  He looked up to the sky and spoke to his father.  As I read it, I was struck by Jesus’ prayer for unity among his followers after he went up to heaven.  His desire is for us to be united:

“My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.

“Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began! John 17:9-24

This prayer gives me a stronger drive to work together with all of my brothers and sisters in Christ; to not let change or anything else put a spirit of division in the body of Christ.

I also needed comforting this morning and God gave me these words:

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

Thank God for his grace. Thank God for this gift. The gifts that we have received from God are worth more than anything this world could ever offer.  Thank you Jesus!

Called to be

11 Apr

Yesterday I found out that my pastor and his family are moving to another  state in June.  I am sad that they are leaving; I almost cried during our last worship song.  At the same time, I want the best for them, so I am happy that they are following what they feel led to do.

I hope that the members of our small church stick together despite the loss of our pastors; we really have become a family in Christ.  I think that the good thing is that it is pushing us all to take a more active role in our walk with Christ. I think it has left everyone thinking, ‘well, what can I do to make this work? How can I help others and myself stay strong in faith?’

Changes can be hard.  I also am left thinking, ‘man it took us so long to find a church that we really loved and now we have to search all over again.’  But, I believe that everything happens for a reason and I am trusting in God for this one.  After all, the reason we go to church is to feel nearer to God, and he is not limited to a single church or location or person.  He is everywhere and it is him that I seek.

Jeremiah 29:11 speaks to this situation perfectly:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

See, God has plans for us.  He wants us to call on him with our whole heart so that all of his wonderful plans for us can be fulfilled. He doesn’t want half our heart; he wants it all.  I think that sometimes changes like this one in my church can be good because it stirs in us a desire to seek God more; to do more.

This morning as I prayed about this, these scriptures really spoke to me:

“fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you…For God has not given us a spirit of timidity and fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Timothy 2:6-7

“the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3

“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

We have to count on God to lead us and strengthen us, allow ourselves to be filled with the hope that he graciously gives us and trust in Him.

“‘I see that the LORD is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
No wonder my heart is glad,
and my tongue shouts his praises!
My body rests in hope.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.
You have shown me the way of life,
and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.” Acts 2:25-28

I pray for each of us to call on the Holy Spirit to give us the strength to be everything that we are called to be.

I’m counting on you, God.

Please bless us father and help us to be the people that you want us to be. To do all of the things for you that you deserve and desire.  Lead us father. Guide us through this life.

Amen.

Less

6 Apr

In Pastor Greg Laurie’s daily email today he wrote, “the resurrection of Christ gives us power to live the Christian life (see Romans 8:11).  Certainly the bible does not teach that we will be sinless in this physical body we now live in.  On the other hand, we can sin less, not by our own abilities, but by the power of the Spirit.

Christ can make us altogether different kinds of people.  We must believe that. ‘Old things have passed away … all things have become new’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  God can give you the power to live this Christian life.”

It is hard to struggle with sin. To know that you should be doing better. To know what you are striving for and feel like you are falling short.  I like how Pastor Greg puts it, ‘we can sin less.’  With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can do this.

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Romans 8:11

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. Romans 8:26-30

In John 7:37-39, Jesus promises living water:

Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)

Isn’t it such a beautiful image of a river of living water of the Holy Spirit and love flowing out from Jesus’ heart to help us and be there for us.  What a wonderful blessing! So I pray today for us to all call on the Holy Spirit to give us the power to sin less while we walk through this world.